Picking a Good Book Title

We get the most spectacular sunrises this time of year. I’m not sure why. All that mysterious meteorology stuff.

I’ve been noticing something interesting since Sapphire came out. One word titles suck for tracking.

Not that I don’t love that title – I do. It was my title all along and Carina let me keep it. It matches the cover nicely (or vice-versa) and reflects a crucial aspect of the story itself. Now, it was counter-productive in a way I didn’t expect because I now have to change the title of my novel coming out in July, formerly known as Obsidian.

I know, I know – me and my one-word precious and semi-precious gem titles. I don’t know what my damage is there. At any rate, Carina said I should retitle Obsidian, because it would sound like a sequel to Sapphire. Since the novel is a totally different story, genre and heat-level, there’s no case for that. I saw their point, brainstormed a list of titles and we’ll see what the marketing team decides.

I’m interested to see what they decide on.

And I hope it’s better for tracking.

See, I have Google alerts set up for mentions of my titles. And Twitter columns set up for those searches. Correction – I have Twitter columns set up to watch for “Petals and Thorns” and “Feeding the Vampire,” but I only lasted about a week with the “Sapphire” column. Seriously. Do you know how many mentions there are of Kate Middleton’s sapphire ring? Or of some credit card? There’s also a Gentleman’s Club (which apparently markets ALL THE TIME), a fancy mall in Istanbul, a watch, a “nettop” computer and a surprising number of people celebrating their 65th wedding anniversaries.

In short – finding mentions of my book is like wandering through a supermodel convention hoping someone will tell you you’re pretty.

Just ain’t gonna happen.

Not to mention that there just happens to be a kind of famous author named Sapphire who hogs all the Amazon searches.

So, I’m extracting a lesson from this one. I know we don’t always have control of our titles, but so far, everyone I know at least gets to send a suggested list. I wonder how people with even more common one-word titles like “Fallen” or “Fated” do. I would think it’s even worse. (Though, for the record, “Twilight” totally rocks the Google search at this point.)

So my whole list of really fab one-word titles? Eh. Send those to circular file #13.

22 Replies to “Picking a Good Book Title”

  1. Sorry. That sounds like a total pain in the cheeks. On the upside, if you type ‘sapphire kennedy’ in Google, you’re the #1 hit. I never heard of Sapphire the author before. Then again I never heard of the book Push (until Google told me just now it was what the movie Precious was based on). Go figger.

    1. Ooh, that’s good to know, B.E.! And go me, because Kennedy is such a common name. Maybe I can tailor my Google alerts to look for both?

  2. I have the opposite problem–my titles tend to be too long. Granted, I’m not published yet, so that will probably change.

    For the record, I kind of love Obsidian as a title, BUT that’s probably because they’re a video game developer. You’d be getting Google Alerts for Neverwinter Nights or Fallout: New Vegas. Not a BAD thing, just probably not what you want with a romance novel. 😉

    1. Well, Jen – my first book was “Wyoming Trucks, True Love and the Weather Channel” – so I feel your pain there! I kind of love Obsidian as a title, too, and I’ve been calling it that since I started writing it back in 2006. (Ack!) But good point on the video game developer!

  3. Hi Jeffe, Thanks for this, something I hadn’t ever thought about, but important. I like the one word gems, but see the downside.
    Continued success!

  4. I’m so bad at thinking up titles.
    My first finished English story is still only known as ‘untitled zombie story’

    1. I think it’s a special skill. And some people have the knack and others don’t. One trick is to pick a phrase you like from the story and use that.

      1. That could work…
        Ok: Untitled Zombie Story will from now on be known as: ‘There’s a zombie in the dumpster again’ :-p

  5. Wow, this is fascinating! I honestly don’t think I ever would have thought of that problem, so thank you so much for sharing. We must be on the save wave-length, because my blog this week is about titles too, and I particularly like the longer and less common ones anyway, so I guess that works out well for me. I’m going to link to this in my comments. =)

  6. Trust me, longer titles don’t necessarily garner better Google alert results. My last book from Loose Id, Comes the Wolf, gets me all sorts of weird stuff but never a review or alert of piracy (which is the whole reason I set them up) Curiously, tons of basketball articles. Go figure.

    1. I’m sorry for your pain, Crystal, but that’s just hysterical! Do we even WANT to know why sports writers are using “comes the wolf”??? Ack!

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